A Time of Blood by John Gwynne
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Of Blood and Bone (Book 2 of 3)
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Published: 18th April 2019 by Pan Macmillan (UK) & 16th April 2019 by Orbit (US)
A fantastic sequel in the Of Blood and Bone trilogy, A Time of Blood is yet another testament to John Gwynne’s extraordinary ability to write incredible stories.
The tone and direction of the narrative stayed true to Gwynne’s approach of escalating the stakes, and ratcheting the tension to a penultimate cliffhanger ending that makes one go “Why are you doing this to me?”
One thing I have to note is that I enjoyed A Time of Dread just a bit more and now I realised that it has a lot to do with the nostalgia factor when the heroes from The Faithful and The Fallen were commemorated and spoken of. I felt a bit less attached to the new characters in this series, especially those which were not as connected to Corban and his legacy. With this, and coupled with the amount of heart evident in his story, Drem is definitely my favourite POV character. This is not to say that Riv and Bleda are poor characters, far from it, as Gwynne is very skillful in creating interesting and relatable characters. Their stories were compelling, even if I did not feel as much for them as I did for Drem. And the other thing that Gwynne is wont to do is making his characters suffer through pain, grief, loss, regret, torment, and all those wonderfully things. It is excruciating, but this also makes for an incredibly cathartic experience watching these characters pull together in adversity, supporting and watching out for each other’s back, and coming out triumphant.
“We live our lives through Truth and Courage. Love and loyalty, friendship and honour are our guiding lights.”
Speaking of his skill in writing characters, I applaud him the most in his portrayals of the animal characters. I am a huge animal lover, and Gwynne does them a whole lot of justice. I am not kidding, a lot of my emotional moments belonged to the crows, bears and wolven-hounds. They felt like real characters to me, and scenes of their interaction and connection with the humans are some of the most heartwarming, and heartwrenching, ones I’ve read in this book. They are not merely animals, or pets. They are friends.
“With friends like this, how could we ever lose?”
The Ben-Elim and the Kadoshim at first glance seemed to mirror the angels and fallen angels of our world. And perhaps they are meant to tell a deeper story than simply good vs evil. While the Kadoshims were indeed malevolent, the faithful and ‘honourable angels of Elyon were not as benevolent as they were thought to be. A major part of the narrative in Of Blood and Bone dealt with the outcome of the Ben-Elim taking control over a large portion of The Banished Lands. Safe to say, it was not happily ever after.
The action scenes are classic Gwynne. Superbly written, they are intense, vivid and suspenseful. If you’ve read any of Gwynne’s books before, you would know that no one is safe in The Banished Lands. In fact, Of Blood and Bone felt a lot darker, although not as epic as The Faithful and The Fallen at this stage. It is without a doubt very well-written, and the continuation of the story from the last series felt like a natural extension of the events in Wrath. These books also offer fans of The Faithful and The Fallen, yours truly included, a chance to reminisce about the old beloved characters; times which are often accompanied by a tear or two, or more.
With A Time of Blood, Gwynne paved the road to the end with his first-rate storytelling skills. The conclusion of Of Blood and Bone is going to be tremendously epic. I could feel it in my blood and bones.